CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan -- A couple of years ago, Afghan Uniformed Policeman Shakh Muhammad was on a drug clearing mission when one of his best friends stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost his life.
Now, Muhammad is learning how to counter IEDs during the Afghan Uniformed Police Basic Course at Joint Sustainment Academy Southwest, here.
“That was a sad day,” said Muhammad, reflecting on his friend’s death. He hopes his training at the C-IED range on Camp Bastion will help him learn how to locate and destroy IEDs to prevent others from dying in the blasts.
Throughout the day, Muhammad and his fellow policemen patrolled down simulated valleys and cleared paths filled with mock IEDs.
IEDs are the weapon of choice of the Afghan insurgency. The devices pose a lethal threat to coalition forces and Afghan civilians.
“All the students here have had bad experiences with the Taliban,” said 1st Lt. Joshua Oresko, the course’s lead instructor, and a native of Crown Point., Ind. “This has made them anxious in learning how they can become better and how they can make their country better.”
During the course, the 45 students from Nimroz province learned IED components so they will be able to recognize materials while searching buildings or conducting vehicle checkpoints.
“They’ll also be able to identify the suspicious behavior of individuals setting up for or conducting IED attacks,” said Capt. Joseph L. Dalton, the assistant director of JSAS.
AUP participants also learned how to use the Vallon, a metal detector used to locate IEDs.
Vallon operations and sweeps increase the AUP’s ability to detect IEDs and their materials that have been placed under dirt or other forms of landscape.
“This will not only assist them in their daily operations, but will be most beneficial when operating in a new area or during an increased force protection level,” Dalton said.
The use of the Vallon and other skills acquired at the C-IED range will help Afghans like Muhammad in their future missions. After graduation, Muhammad and the rest of the policemen will return to the local populace in Nimroz where IEDs will be a common threat.
“We are learning things here,” Muhammad said. “Learning this material will help me find IEDs so that next time maybe my friend doesn’t have to die."